Broncos Hall of Famer Elway proving to be winner off the field, too
NEW YORK — He is an iconic quarterback and Super Bowl winner who is restoring to prominence the longtime AFC power Denver Broncos, who had stumbled and fumbled their way into hard times.
Peyton Manning, right?
No, it's John Elway, whose skills as a talent evaluator and executive are being credited for refreshing a franchise that had lost its way, finishing .500 or worse for five consecutive seasons. In doing so, Elway is offering a road map to rebuilding success that a team such as the Steelers could copy.
“Being a quarterback, you sort of are a talent evaluator, knowing players' strengthens and weaknesses,” former Broncos running back Terrell Davis said. “He's taken that into the front office. … John's not up there doing what he's doing to pound his chest and say, ‘See what I'm doing?' He knows when to back up and when to be aggressive. I see all of his skill sets that made him a great quarterback.”
How did the Broncos go from being 35-45 from 2006-10 to 34-14 in the three seasons since Elway took over as executive vice president of football operations, with no general manger to support him over the past two seasons?
• Elway hasn't been afraid to make bold moves. Even after the Broncos won the AFC West with Tim Tebow at quarterback in 2011 and upset the Steelers in the playoffs, Elway led the franchise-changing push to bring in Manning — despite the quarterback's four neck operations, questionable shoulder strength and huge salary cap hit.
• He hasn't relied almost exclusively on the draft to freshen up the talent as the Steelers do. Instead, he supplemented draft picks by identifying and signing affordable free agents, such as receiver Wes Welker ($4.1 million cap hit in 2013), offensive lineman Manny Ramirez ($1.23 million) and defensive lineman Shaun Phillips ($1.4 million). He also traded for defensive lineman Terrance Knighton ($1.25 million). The four cost the Broncos barely as much in cap space as Ike Taylor does to the Steelers. Signing Welker to an affordable deal was a double whammy, as it took away Tom Brady's favored receiver.
• Elway and former general manager Brian Xanders drafted smartly. No Broncos-chosen linebacker was selected higher than the third round. Only one such defensive lineman went above the fifth round.
• Much like the New England Patriots, they prefer to turn over the roster rather than pay long-tenured players a lot of money as the Steelers do. Seven Steelers players counted $4 million or more against the cap this season, none less than $4.7 million. Only three Broncos players did.
• Elway stays largely in the shadows but isn't afraid to step into the locker room and deliver a pointed message. On Wednesday, Broncos players pointed to a paint-peeling speech he delivered following a blowout preseason loss in Seattle. Manning said, “He pretty much laid it on us.”
“We took notes about what he talked about … words like ‘soft' and ‘finishing,' ” Knighton said. “It shook up everybody: the coaching staff, the players.”
Elway explains that what it takes to win as a player is the same as what it takes to win as an executive.
“To me, the common denominator is competitiveness and wanting to win,” said Elway, who retired after leading the Broncos to Super Bowl wins in the 1997 and '98 seasons. “I think as a player I was very competitive, and I'm the same way as an executive.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Bell unsure why NFL reduced his suspension
- NFL notebook: Brady’s lawsuit will be heard in New York
- Patriots QB Brady’s suspension upheld by Goodell
- Patriots QB Brady files lawsuit against NFL to halt suspension
- Chiefs star Berry beats cancer, returns to field
- NFL notebook: Redskins re-sign star linebacker Kerrigan